#02008
The Waterford Boys (MacEdward Leach) video
See also: Wrestling With Rats (Tim Dennehy)
#335 YouTube video by darrin42
©2008 ~ Used with permission ~

      midi1   alt: midi2
(Sung to The Humours Of Whiskey)

Now, boys, for diversions we've all got together,
I'll tell how from Waterford hither I came:
I crossed the brave ocean in dark, stormy weather,
My heart, it being light and my pocket the same.

Sad at leaving old Ireland, but once more on dry land,
By this roadside a tavern I happened to spy;
And as I was melting, my pockets I felt in,
For the price of a drink I was mortally dry.

For we are the boys for fun, with an element,
Drinking and dancing and all other joys;
For ructions, destructions, diversions, and devilment,
Who can compare with the Waterford boys?

In that tavern I strolled out, the master he rolled,
"Good morrow, says he; goes l, "If you please,
Provide me a bed, but first bring me bread,
A bottle of porter, and a small piece of cheese.

"The times they are queer, provisions are dear,
If you cannot get meat, with cheese be content."
Says the landlord, "You're right," as he brought me the bite,
I rolled up me sleeves and at it I went.

For we are the boys for fun, with an element,
Drinking and dancing and all other joys;
For ructions, destructions, diversions, and devilment,
Who can compare with the Waterford boys?

My bread and cheese ended, I then condescended,
To seek some repose, so I asked for a light;
And soon in a doze I was under the clothes,
So I drew in me toes and I puffed out the light.

But awakened from sleeping, I heard something creeping,
And wandering and wandering around the bedpost;
Says l, 'mid me watching this squeaking and scratching,
Says I, "You have mighty long claws for a ghost."

For we are the boys for fun, with an element,
Drinking and dancing and all other joys;
For ructions, destructions, diversions, and devilment,
Who can compare with the Waterford boys?

My breath I suspended, the night it soon ended,
I ventured to peep from beneath the bedclothes;
"Hey, murder what's that?" and a thumping jack-rat,
Made a leap from the floor to the top of me nose.

"Thunder sweep you," says I, for a scheming old vagabond,
"Take that and that," as I leaped on the floor;
Yelling, "Murder and fire, Tim, Jerry, Mariah,
Rats they are eating me up by the score."

For we are the boys for fun, with an element,
Drinking and dancing and all other joys;
For ructions, destructions, diversions, and devilment,
Who can compare with the Waterford boys?

The Iandlord, affrighted, he came with a light,
"I'm murdered alive, so I must go away."
Says he, "Before going, I'll have you be knowing,
For supper and bed you've five shillings to pay."

"Five shillings for what?" say l, "Don't be disgracing
Yourself for a rogue," says I, "if you please;
When I can't sleep for rats, you've a brazen old face,
For to charge me five shillings for plain bread and cheese."

For we are the boys for fun, with an element,
Drinking and dancing and all other joys;
For ructions, destructions, diversions, and devilment,
Who can compare with the Waterford boys?

"Oh, perish the rats, I wish they would leave me,
They're ruining my trade, and I'm not worth a rat."
Says I, "The five shillings, if you will forgive me,
I'll tell you how you can keep out every rat."

"Agreed, then," says I, "and to supper invite them,
And plain bread and cheese put before them for sure;
And if you are willing, just charge them five shillings,
Bad luck to the rat will you ever see more."

####.... Harry Clifton [1832-1872] ....####
Collected in 1951 from Francis (Frank) Knox [1918-?] of St Shott's, NL, and published in MacEdward Leach And The Songs Of Atlantic Canada © 2004 Memorial University of Newfoundland Folklore and Language Archive (MUNFLA).

A variant was collected as The Waterford Boys, #72 in Ballads And Sea Songs Of Newfoundland, by Elisabeth Bristol Greenleaf and Grace Yarrow Mansfield (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1933; Folklore Associates, Hatboro, Pennsylvania, 1968.)

Originally published in broadsheet form, this song later appeared in The Mercier Book Of Old Irish Street Ballads (1989). Most versions are traced to Paddy Tunney who recorded it on A Wild Bees' Nest (1965). A London music-hall writer and performer, Harry Clifton popularized such songs as On Board the Kangaroo and Pulling Hard Against The Stream.

The video above features a variant from The Dubliners (Prodigal Sons, Polydor, 1983; Live In Carre, Polydor, 1983).


See more songs by The Dubliners.

A variant was also recorded as The Waterford Boys by Tickle Harbour (Brule Boys In Paris, trk#4, 1991, Dadyeen Studios, St John's NL).

From Wiktionary:
Ruction - noisy quarrel or fight; ruckus; brawl, disturbance, fracas, row, uproar.



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